Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us….Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Matthew 6:12; Col 3:13)
A Famous Photo
Many of you have seen the 1972 photo of Kim Phuc Phan Thi (“the Napalm girl”) in South Vietnam. She was nine years old, running along a muddy road, arms outstretched, naked, screaming in pain and fear. The napalm bombs brought horrific physical pain to Kim, and her emotional and spiritual pain was worse. As a child, she was raised in the religion of Caodaiism, and for years after the bombing she asked their “gods” for healing and peace. Her prayers went unanswered so it seemed that those gods were not real or did not care about her. Because of her constant suffering, Kim considered suicide.
One day in 1982, she read the New Testament, especially the Four Gospels. She read Jesus’ claims to be God Himself and His words: “I am the only Way to God and the real Truth and the real Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”1 She understood that Christ was mocked, tortured, and killed for His claims to be God’s Son and that amazed her. Kim came to believe that Christ really is God and would fulfill all His promises in the Scriptures. She wanted Jesus to save her and help her accept her pain and the scars all over her body.
Jesus the Wounded One Saves
Kim came to faith in Christ on Christmas Eve 1982, attending a small church in Saigon. She wanted Jesus and asked Him to take away the boiling hatred in her heart. She asked for Christ’s peace, love, and joy. Kim openly declared that Jesus is Lord. She believed in her heart that God raised Christ from the dead and that He is alive forever.2
In 2018, Kim wrote: “Nearly half a century has passed since I was running—frightened, naked, and in pain—down that road in Vietnam. I will never forget the horrors of that day. But my trust in Jesus enables me to forgive those who have hurt and scarred me. Today, I thank God for everything, even for that road, especially for that road.”3 Have we truly been forgiven by God? Then how can we be unwilling to forgive others?
This builds on our previous post Forgiven and Forgiving (Part 1)
Review: Here’s God’s Better Way
1. We seek daily forgiveness from the Lord ourselves.
2. We receive forgiveness from God for ourselves.
3. Then we show, extend, give forgiveness daily to others, as Christ does for us.
We Receive Forgiveness Daily from God.
The Bible says: If we confess our sins, the Lord is faithful and just and will forgive us and purify us from all unrighteousness.4 We need daily cleansing and washing in Jesus’ blood. I do and all of us do. Christ’s atoning sacrifice for us on the cross was completed once for all time in history. Then Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to bring us to faith in Christ one by one. And once Jesus saves us, He will never condemn us. But Christ is also the Fountain of Life who constantly cleanses us from sin and impurity.5 The Lord taught us to pray for His daily provision, His daily pardoning, and His daily protection and preservation.6 We can’t live without Jesus’ help!
We need God’s cleansing or we stink. Holding grudges and bitterness can make us feel guilty, ashamed, separated from God, and downcast. Receiving the Lord’s forgiveness daily makes us sweeter people, not sour Pharisees. God makes us happy in Jesus, not miserable. And that changes all our dealings with other people.
We Show, Extend, Give Forgiveness Daily
Here’s the trickle-down. We first get mercy from the Lord, then we pay it forward to others who hurt us, like Kim Phuc learned to do. People offend us and trespass against us, in big and little ways. Sometimes, like Kim, we are more sinned against than sinning, having more bad things done to us, than the bad things we do. Kim’s book is called Fire Road: The Napalm Girl’s Journey through the Horrors of War to Faith, Forgiveness, and Peace.
But praise the Lord, He gives us grace, mercy, and peace in Jesus Christ. Then we show grace, mercy, and peace to our co-workers, neighbors, children, parents, and enemies. It’s not easy, beloved, but with the Holy Spirit’s help we can do all that God commands. We receive the Lord’s love, blessing, and smile. Then we show the Lord’s love, blessing, and smile to other people, however undeserving they are. When we remember that we are undeserving before God, then we can be generous, not grudging about forgiving others. Imitating Christ our sacrificial Savior changes our marriages and all our relationships.
On the cross, Christ prayed, Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.7 His enemies didn’t fully understand that they were killing God’s Son, Israel’s long-expected Messiah, the woman’s seed who came to crush the serpent’s head.8 They were murdering the only Savior of sinners, our only hope for this world and the world to come.
People are 100% responsible for the hurt they cause in war times and everyday life. Scripture says: Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of the Lord to whom we must give account.9 People can be “frenemies,” pretending to be friends but also in some ways enemies or rivals. Maybe they don’t fully understand how or how much they hurt us. But we must forgive them anyway, even though they don’t deserve it, because Christ does that for us.
Jesus says: If you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matthew 6:14-15)
This is the gospel of Jesus Christ. May God help us to trust and obey Him. And to live in peace.
Notes (various Bible translations used)” 1 John 14:6 AMP. 2 Rom 10:9. 3 Adapted from Kim Phuc Phan Thi, “Thank God for Those Bombs,” CT magazine (May, 2018, p. 87-88). 4 1 John 1:8-10. 5 Zec 13:1; Psalm 36:9. 6 Matt 6:11-13. 7 Luke 23:34. 8 Gen 3:15. 9 Heb 4:13.